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Gadget Freak Case #205: Colorado Smart Bike Shifts Itself

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a1f6d
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Iron
Re: Colorado bike shifts itself
a1f6d   2/15/2012 2:32:56 PM
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In riding the bike around, there is definitely a learning curve as to proper technique in operating it.  You're right in that it could never anticipate my needs on the fly.  For instance, in going up hills I'm forced to slow down enough to get into an appropriate gear before I start up the slope.

Obviously, there is no way with the added complexity to beat the reliability of the original cable and lever shifters.  I am interested myself to see how long the system lasts before something wears out as I ride it to class.  I'll let you know when something goes bad.  Unfortunately, no, the system isn't water proof, and originally wasn't really light proof either.  We had issues with direct sunlight saturating the photo-transistor.  This was fixed with a small shade mounted over the unit.

Bill

a1f6d
User Rank
Iron
Re: Weight
a1f6d   2/15/2012 2:23:50 PM
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The whole system adds about a pound to the weight of the bike, and that could be reduced significantly with more expensive light-weight materials.  I've been riding the bike to and from classes on and off here for about 2 weeks and haven't been able to notice any lack of performance due to increased weight.  As was mentioned earlier, this isn't meant to be a system for a competition racing bike as much as one for a casual rider. 

Bill

William K.
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Platinum
Colorado smart bike shifts itself
William K.   2/15/2012 2:19:49 PM
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What an amazing gadget! I bike several miles every day, and I shift gears a lot, so much that I wear out shift cables. But I really wonder how the system will anticipate what I want to do next, which, since the standard derailuer shift requires crank motion to shift down, I shift prior to the action for which I shifted. All of the computers that attempt to anticipate what I want to do are always wrong, and unless the processor can read my mind, it will be wrong as well. That would be a bit frustrating, I think.

What I wonder about is how this system could possibly match the reliability of the simple cable and lever shifters that have been around for so long. And is this package waterproof? I seldom choose to ride in the rain, but I wind up doing it not by choice on many occasions. So I wonder about how robust this system really is.


William K.
User Rank
Platinum
Colorado bike shifts itself
William K.   2/15/2012 2:18:42 PM
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What an amazing gadget! I bike several miles every day, and I shift gears a lot, so much that I wear out shift cables. But I really wonder how the system will anticipate what I want to do next, which, since the standard derailuer shift requires crank motion to shift down, I shift prior to the action for which I shifted. All of the computers that attempt to anticipate what I want to do are always wrong, and unless the processor can read my mind, it will be wrong as well. That would be a bit frustrating, I think.

What I wonder about is how this system could possibly match the reliability of the simple cable and lever shifters that have been around for so long. And is this package waterproof? I seldom choose to ride in the rain, but I wind up doing it not by choice on many occasions. So I wonder about how robust this system really is.

Tool_maker
User Rank
Platinum
Weight
Tool_maker   2/15/2012 1:01:00 PM
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I am not a cyclist, but it seems to me the overwhelming research dollars are spent it reducing the weight of the bike. At least that was what I found when I was helping my adolescent son find a suitable bike. The lighter they were the more they cost.

Just curious, how much weight has this added and would that not defeat any advantage gained by shifting?

RobLewis
User Rank
Gold
Re: Yes, but…
RobLewis   2/15/2012 11:35:13 AM
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I'd argue that the abundance of engine power available in a car can "smooth over" mismatches between the driver's intention and the transmission's state. When all you've got is pedal power, it's much more critical to know the rider/driver's goals, intentions, and attitude. Not to mention "look-ahead" data from the driver's visual perception and analysis of the path in front of him/her.

pueng123
User Rank
Iron
Great Mechatronics project
pueng123   2/15/2012 10:53:10 AM
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I think this is one of the best "Gadget Freak" cases ever presented in Design News, and here's why.  It takes common components available to any experimenter, puts them together to solve a problem, and gives a detailed explanation of how it works.  The video was great in explaining the different subsystems of the experiment. I am a long time bike rider and know how hard it is to perform gear changing on a cable operated gear shifting system.  The fact that students made this work using fairly crude experimental components is amazing.  No it is not rocket science but it represents the true spirit of Mechatronics and Gadget Freaking.

Great work guys.

Andy
User Rank
Iron
LandRider
Andy   2/15/2012 10:30:32 AM
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I once saw an auto shifting bike called the LandRider. I didn't study it closely, but it used centrifugal weights attached to one of the idler sprockets on the rear duraillieur to sense pedaling speed, and shift to keep that constant, within the ratios available. The mechanism looked like a flyball governor, it was all mechanical. Just FYI.

Pete Ostapchuk
User Rank
Iron
smart bike
Pete Ostapchuk   2/15/2012 9:57:13 AM
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    Back in th 1980s, I connected a 400 pound IBM 7330 magnetic tap unit to the cassette input of my Commodore 64 and made it work. It was a lot of fun doing it but it was not very practical. It would be interesting to see where this goes. Who would have thought that the Edison effect would some day have us putting electronics in a coffee pot. I'm thinking that you guys had fun tricking out that bike. I'm sure it will turn some heads. 

    I still ride a 1958 Schwinn 3 speed. A few years ago I also have a Trek with 24 speeds. I normally use the front shifter only for those 3 speeds. I still like cars with manual transmissions.   Pete O.

naperlou
User Rank
Blogger
Re: Yes, but…
naperlou   2/15/2012 9:42:48 AM
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Of course you could say that about a car as well.  I had a car that had a highly advertised feature of being adaptive to a user's driving style.  That was fine until you changed styles (which I do a lot).

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